This book is set to be published on October 31st, 2022.
It’s October again, so it’s time for some spooky reads! In this case, I’m returning to Baltimore for the second time, in Ian’s Bodymore trilogy (I’m pretty sure book 3 is coming next year).
And it’s a comeback, because the book is starting right where the first one left. Don’t try to read this out of order! It’s hard enough understanding what’s going on at the beginning if you have read the first book. (Maybe it would be easier if you read those books right after another.)
Some authors are prone to over exposition, where they tell the readers in long and winding sentences about stuff in their world everyone (but the reader) knows. Obviously, that’s frowned upon, and not only by me.
Ian is taking things to the other extreme, where basically nothing is explained, and if through some miracle of God a small amount of exposition does happen, it’s guaranteed to bring up even more questions than it answers. So I’m stumbling thorough the world of Bodymore, not knowing what’s going on.
That’s kind of sympathetic – Joey, our heroine, doesn’t know more than I do. Which would still be fine if I had at least the feeling that the plot would be moving somewhere, but the plot seems to lack ambition and is content with stumbling alongside me.
So here we are, Joey, me and the plot (I’m calling him Spot for now), wandering through Baltimore, looking for places to go. At least Joey can keep herself busy smoking an endless stream of cigarettes. That stuff would be the death of her, but since she already died in the first book, those worries don’t stick.
A somewhat lackluster plot would still be okay if it’s balanced by interesting characters. For a good junk of the beginning, it’s the old gang, and while none of them are uninteresting, we already know so much about them. When we meet the medium for the first time, that’s when things start to change a little. Ralph is actually the most interesting character in the book.
Personally, I would have opted for a little more exposition. Charon could have at least given his new employees some kind of leaflet with a quick run down. “You’re dead now and you work for me – here’s everything you need to know to survive your first day on the job!” – you know, stuff like that.
And that’s just the problem. The first book ended with Joey and Way being employed by Charon to go on the hunt for the dead that came back. That’s their whole job – find the (un-)dead Baltimorons (like themselves) and make sure Charon gets their souls. And now take a wild and educated guess about the one thing that is not happening during the course of this book. If Charon’s mission to her had instead been something along the lines of “Go forth and smoke as much as humanly possible until you’ve teared through a year’s worth of cigarette production”, well, good news, she would have fulfilled her obligations around a quarter into the book .
Well then. I was hoping for some ghost busting, which didn’t happen. I will be back this time next year around, for the third and final installment. Let’s hope there’s actually some ghost hunting action then. Otherwise, this is one of the many cases where the second book in a series is the weakest (the curse of the seconds, right?). 2.5 out of 5, rounded up to 3.